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Archives for April, 2008

Phylogeny Friday — 25 April 2008

Duh! That’s Obvious, Edition Take a look at this mastodon skeleton: Does it look like anything you recognize? Perhaps a large terrestrial mammal with big tusks. If you said “elephant” you win. The prize: nothing. That is half of the conclusion from a recent paper in Science (doi:10.1126/science.1154284). Really. The other half: birds and dinosaurs…

Brian Charlesworth wrote a review of Mike Lynch’s The Origins of Genome Architecture, in which Charlesworth argues that sexual reproduction can explain many of the features Lynch claims evolved under nearly neutral processes (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.008). Not to be left out of the party, Deborah Charlesworth has chimed in with her opinion, and it’s much more critical…

Saving the Name of Drosophila melanogaster

The Drosophila genus is paraphyletic. That means there are species nested within the phylogeny of the genus that belong to other genera. Or, in other words, there are species descended from the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all Drosophila species that belong to different genera. If that doesn’t make sense, just look at the…

Who said this?

Someone was asked something along these lines by a member of some legislative body: How will your research help protect this country? That someone replied with something like this: It won’t, but it will keep this country worth protecting. The exact wording in those quotes probably differ from what was actually said. This isn’t a…

Expelled Exaggerated?

The creationist movie that everyone* is talking about came out was released this weekend. Early reports have Expelled coming in 9th nationally in weekend gross, with about $3 million. That’s a lot of money, and you can color Randy Olson freakin’ impressed. However, put in the context of what the producers were expecting, it’s not…

Watson’s Genome

Last year, Craig Venter became the first single person to have his genome sequence published (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050254). That genome was sequenced using the old-school Sanger technique. It marked the second time the complete human genome had been published (which led to some discussion as to whether the publication deserved to be published in a high profile…

The Natural Selection of Ideas

It’s funny because some people think both groups are wrong: Originally from Tom the Dancing Bug.

El Chupacabra de Barcelona

I think I’m cursed. Or I have bad luck. Or conference organizers think I’m a morning person. Alright, so maybe I really am a morning person. But that’s besides the point. Because it sucks to give a talk on a Saturday morning. Saturday mornings should be reserved for things like Belgian waffles, homemade hash browns,…

Varmus Screws the Pooch

Harold Varmus is one of the most high profile advocates of open access to biomedical research. As one of the cofounders of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), he has played an important role in making published results freely available to all. And he’s a Nobel Laureate, which ain’t too shaby either. Varmus was interviewed…

Phylogeny Friday — 11 April 2008

Drosophila Are Not Fruit Flies Edition As I have mentioned before, Drosophila are not fruit flies. Tephritids are fruit flies. Drosophila feed on rotting fruit, while true fruit flies feed on fresh fruit. That makes true fruit flies agricultural pests. Drosophila, on the other hand, are connoisseurs of the finer things in life — wine,…